Matters Arising: Show Me Your Certificate - Mathias Ilo

Section 131 of Nigeria's 1999 Constitution provides that: A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the Pre...

Section 131 of Nigeria's 1999 Constitution provides that:

A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if:

(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;
(b) he has attained the age of forty years;
(c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and
(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

By this provision, a secondary school certificate (WASC or SSCE) or its equivalent (GCE) is the minimum academic qualification for a potential president of Nigeria.

To buttress this fact, in the Federal Civil Service for example, it does not matter how high or advanced you have studied, to join the service as a Clerical Assistant which is Level 03, and then upward, you must show that you attended and concluded a secondary school but, to make it clear, whether or not you passed is not the issue. Without this, you will only be employed as a Messenger because that is what you qualify for in the absence of a secondary school certificate but with a primary school certificate.

However, the Federal Civil Service is fully aware that some intelligent people could not access secondary school education not because they are not sound enough to face the rigours required in it but because of circumstances beyond their control.

Therefore, since the law is not put in place to punish the innocent, there exist a safe route for these category of people. That route allows those without secondary education to be at par with those with secondary education only if they can show themselves as competent as those who physically attended secondary school.

Thus, the acceptance of General Certificate of Education result as an equivalent of WASC. This simply means that, if you are seeking employment in the civil service and you had never been to secondary school or you have been but could not complete your course, all you need to do is sit for this examination, privately, and if you are able to pass, then you are deemed to be as competent as those who spent five good years in the secondary school. Why? Because the curriculum for the GCE examination is the same as that of WASC.

This rule applies to everyone seeking for job on Level 03 or above without exception. It even applies to those seeking admission into our universities where 5 credits in GCE is equivalent to 5 credits in WASC. And also, where you can augment your WASC results with that of GCE to make up the required credits required to gain admission into the university.

It is pertinent to note that, if you seek for a job even as a holder of a PhD, you must first produce your WASC or GCE before your PhD is discussed. The basis on which to discuss your B.Sc, Masters, Certified, Chartered, Ph.D, e.t.c., is your basic education. Your basic education is judged based on your secondary school performance (WASC or SSCE) or its equivalent (GCE).

Common sense reveals that if you are capable of acquiring a PhD then you must be more than capable of acquiring a School Certificate or a GCE. There are cases of people going back to write GCE even as undergraduates because back in those days, if you gain university admission through the back doors without the required school certificate, your final result would be withheld by the university until you produce your valid school certificate evidencing five credits.

It does not matter whether Buharam is currently a Field Marshall in the military. What was requested for by the constitution was evidence of a secondary school education through certification or its equivalent, where a secondary school certificate is impossible. In our society's case that equivalent of school certificate is the General Certificate Of Education (GCE). This is the minimum Nigerians require from Buhari before he is legally capable to face the polls.

Rather, his APC examiners wants us to accept that their party which seems to now be deputising for WAEC, tested Buhari in-house, and he, Buhari, showed competence. The worst being that this argument was made by a man who studied up to PhD, if we should believe his title anyway. We hope he is not an Oluwole made Doctor.

Mathias Ilo


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